No bones were broken but I was told there was muscular damage.
In 2005 I had a young family and I was working two jobs to support them, but in August 2005 I was at work and had an accident crushing my left leg. No bones were broken but I was told there was muscular damage.
For the next two years my leg was always cold, hypersensitive and the pain…I had never felt pain like it. Then, in 2007, I was told I had been misdiagnosed and I actually had nerve damage called RSD/CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) which is a poorly understood condition in which a person experiences persistent severe and debilitating pain.
Although most cases of CRPS are triggered by an injury, the resulting pain is much more severe and long-lasting than normal. The pain is usually confined to one limb, but it can sometimes spread to other parts of the body. The skin of the affected body part can become so sensitive that just a slight touch, bump or even a change in temperature can provoke intense pain. Affected areas can also become swollen, stiff or undergo fluctuating changes in color or temperature. Many cases of CRPS gradually improve to some degree over time, or get completely better, however, some cases of CRPS never go away, and the affected person will experience pain for many years.
When you have CRPS there is no cure and it’s not the area itself that is damaged but the brain misfires because of the damaged area: the brain keeps telling the area it’s hurt and there is no way of changing it. It has left me in a wheelchair unable to use my leg, I cannot walk or even weight-bare, and the damage is from my left leg down to my foot.
Because of the CRPS I was moved to the pain clinic in the local hospital and over the next few years they gave me 12 different kinds of pain killers, muscle relaxants and sleeping tablets. Then depression set in, making me worse and leaving me unable to do things for myself. I was feeling useless, sitting in my wheelchair, unable to move because of the pain, watching other people doing the things I should be doing: playing with the kids, washing up, tidying up, cutting the grass…even making a cup of coffee. Trying to move round in my wheelchair makes me feel like crying and even trying to help my family play games, do things with the kids or just going to the shop is practically impossible. The slightest bump or even just moving my leg would make the pain unbearable.
In 2012, I was told my CRPS had spread to my other leg. Now I felt even worse in knowing it could keep spreading to other limbs.
My tablets kept changing to stronger ones and were prescribed for others thing like arthritis in my hands and then, in 2015, things changed. I was taking two different kinds of morphine (shortec and longtec) as well as tablets for depression. All together over 20+ tablets a day…but with strong pain killers you lose yourself, you become a zombie, one day becomes another. I could not keep up with conservations and even trying to spell words was hard. I would be watching TV but not remembering watching things; you get up, eat, watch TV, take tablets, eat, sleep…day after day…week after week. You don’t know what day or month it is. I remember getting up and taking my first tablets of the day, drinking coffee, then, at about 1pm, I was on the sofa watching TV with a blanket over my legs to try to keep them warm (the cold weather was making the pain worse). So, I was due my next lot of pain killers in two hours but the pain was so bad that I then took one longtec tablet early. Next thing I remember is my arms were being pulled, my eyes were closed and I could hear voices. Then my eyes started to open slowly and I could hear someone say, “He’s back!” and, “Put his back against the sofa.” As my eyes opened I could see what I recognized as paramedics. Four of them. I had an oxygen mask on and I was on the floor. My mind was blank to what had happened as I looked round the room; I could see my two kids, aged 8 and 11, crying their eyes out. My mind still a blank: WHAT HAD HAPPENED? Then I saw my wife crying and I started to panic. I still could not think of anything, then one of the paramedics said, “Let’s get you up and get you to hospital,” as I was being taken out to the ambulance with its light flashing. It was raining and my kids were outside still crying. I was now getting annoyed with myself but my brain was still blank. I did not know what had happened. I started to panic as the ambulance doors closed and we started to move. There was me and a paramedic in the back who was checking my vitals. ‘Right,’ I said in my head, ‘here goes nothing’ and I moved my hand. “What happened?” I said. The paramedic looked at me and said, “You died. You was dead for four minutes.”
Dead? DEAD? How was I dead? What had gone on? My memory was coming back: showing me the TV show I was watching and then nothing.
In hospital my wife turned up asking how I was and I said, “How are the kids? What did I do?” My wife said she had come back with the kids from taking the dog for a walk and my youngest said, “Look, Mum, dad’s asleep with his eyes open,” and he was waving at me then said, “daddy’s belly is hardly moving,” and she realized something was wrong and called 999. A doctor came in as the paramedics were packing up and I thanked them but after what they had done thanking them did NOT seem enough. The doctor was looking at my chart going through my medical condition and meds so I asked him, “What happened?” He looked at me and said,
“You have a virus and took a painkiller and together they killed you. It’s called an accidental overdose and happens a lot.”
Going through some more paper work he began saying that they were admitting me for observation. I wanted to know everything: How? What? Why? They told me that because of the strength of some of the tablets I was suffering from one of the side effects. “Now what do I do?” I asked, “I don’t want it happening again!”
I knew other people with CRPS and were using cannabis, so I asked the doctor for his opinion. He said he had heard it helps but could not prescribe it. That night I was admitted overnight and then sent home. I asked the doctor on leaving what to do about my pain and was told to keep taking the tablets until I could get back to the pain clinic.
At home, me, my wife and kids all started to cry over what had happened, but the pain was still there so I had to keep taking my tablets. With every tablet I took the kids started to panic, even just grabbing the box made the kids start crying and asking, “Is it going to happen again?” I was thinking the same and panicking with every tablet I took. The kids did not want to leave me after that, thinking they might not see me again – even if I fell asleep they would cry to my wife, “Wake dad up! Check him!” I could see the look on their faces even my wife was trying not to show concern. To make matters worse, the doctors said there was a two month wait for a pain clinic appointment and even my GP said I had to wait for the pain clinic.
I had smoked cannabis when I was younger but never thought it would help with pain, so I started asking around a few friends we had. People’s faces were like we were asking for their first born: all we heard was, ”No, no and no!” Even asking around online, people were saying that they couldn’t send it and I could not go round the streets at night in a wheelchair and two kids asking strangers about cannabis. Eventually, I slowly started getting some here and there and I felt better. My pain was not as bad because of how it helped with my CRPS and now my normal pain level starts at 5/10. On cannabis I can move about easier, my mood is better, my depression does not seem as bad and I can even go out at times. My head feels clearer, I feel awake, I’m more focused and the best thing is my kids don’t start panicking!
I don’t smoke to get stoned: I do it just enough to function throughout the day, but by doing so I am a criminal in the eyes of the law. Simply because I want to be out of pain and have a bit of a life. Things have get worse to date: I have CRPS in both my legs and in my back, arthritis in both hands and Raynaud’s which slows the blood in my hands when the weather gets bad. One thing is certain for people in my position: the law needs to change.
By Kevin T
Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 129